Spring is here! Along with the warm weather, comes the dreaded seasonal allergies in your pups. As the pollen rages through the spring, seasonal allergies in dogs become heightened more than other times of the year.
Unfortunately, allergies can interfere with the activities and adventures you may want to bring your pup on. Respiratory effects from allergies can inhibit your dogs ability to attend a hike or run at the dog park. Skin irritations can cause your dog discomfort and leave opportunity for infection if the skin becomes broken.
Your Dogs Immune System
With exposure to a substance that your dog is allergic to, the dogs’ immune system kicks into high gear. The immune system targets what it perceives as a threat. In the case of a virus or infection, this would be an appropriate response. However, since there is no real invasion on the body, the reaction actually damages healthy body tissue. This reaction, paired with the now hypersensitivity to the allergen increases the chances and strength of the immune reaction the next time a dog interacts with the allergen.
When the body detects an allergen or any potentially harmful substance, the immune system releases an antibody. The antibody, immunoglobulin, sparks an inflammatory response in the body to attack the substance. This antibody is responsible for protecting the body. Another chemical reaction noticed in allergies is the release of histamine. Histamine also produces an inflammatory response but is most linked to the outward signs and symptoms of an allergen attack.
Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs
Symptoms of allergies in dogs can vary depending on the exposed allergen in the body. For example, a food allergy can produce symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea along with other general allergic symptoms listed below.
- Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
- Red, inflamed skin
- Itchy ears
- Chronic ear infections
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Constant licking
- *Note: If your dog is experiencing signs of Anaphylaxis you need to get to an emergency vet ASAP.
What Are Common Allergens in Dogs?
The most common allergens for dogs are found in proteins of plant, animal, or insect origin. These can be seen in:
- Dust mites
- Beef, lamb, or chicken
- Soy or Wheat Gluten
Allergy Diagnosis in Dogs
Depending on the allergic reactions your dog is experiencing, your vet can provide avenues to find the root allergen plaguing your pet. For some dogs, allergy testing done by your vet’s office may be the best route. There are two types of allergy testing that are available to you. The first is intradermal skin testing. Intradermal skin testing is not always the easiest option for pet owners, as it is completed by a veterinary dermatologist. For this testing, the dog is put under sedation and has large patches of hair shaved in order to provide a clean testing area. The veterinary dermatologist injects different allergens under the skin and closely monitors to determine what your dog reacts to.
The second option is much easier on both dog and owner, however, is generally less reliable. RAST testing is much more accessible and only requires a blood sample. This blood sample is easily drawn by your routine veterinarian. Once the bloodwork has been drawn, it is sent to a lab for further analysis. Once the results have returned, your veterinarian can provide a plan to help you keep your dogs’ allergies at bay.
How to Treat Dog Allergies
The best way to help your dog avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid allergens. In some cases, this is easy. For example, if your dog is allergic to chicken, you can simply purchase dog food that is free of chicken. However, it is much more difficult if your dog has an allergen that is related to dander, pollen, or insects. Dogs affected by allergens that are almost impossible to exclude from their lives are generally given a prescription medication by your veterinarian. The other option for these allergens are allergy shots which can help build immunity in the body to the specific allergen(s).
Natural Remedies for Allergies in Dogs
Natural remedies for allergic reactions in dogs can be very beneficial for your pup. One of the best things you can do to help prevent allergic reactions within your dog is to keep him on a supplement high in omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements such as ExcelK9 provide a high dose of omega-3, aiding in promoting natural anti-inflammatory responses throughout the body. Providing your pup with a natural anti-inflammatory boosting supplement all year will significantly aid in keeping the body’s response level down when certain allergens arrive.